September 27, 2012

Can One "Walk" on a Murder Case

Murder is the most serious crime on the books. A conviction can lead to life in prison and sometimes even the death penalty.

In some cases, a person who commits a killing can get the charge reduced to manslaughter or even involuntary manslaughter. Both of these can still lead to prison, but usually a far shorter sentence than an actual murder conviction.

In other cases, a person who does a killing can “walk” (that is, not suffer any conviction and not be sentenced to any custody time). We call these instances in California law of excusable or justifiable homicide.

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September 18, 2012

The Joke May Be On You

Every kid engages in prank calls, texts or emails at one time or another. Most of this is innocuous fun.

But at some point fun turns into a crime under Penal Code 653m PC – California’s law against annoying or harassing phone calls. And facing criminal misdemeanor charges that carry up to six months of jail time is no fun for anyone.

But not every annoying phone call qualifies as a crime under Penal Code 653m. Otherwise the jails would be full of telemarketers and jealous ex girlfriends and boyfriends.

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September 14, 2012

The Highest Form of Murder

Whenever someone gets charged with murder, one of the first questions people ask is “Will the D.A. seek the death penalty?”

Prosecutors do have a great deal of discretion as to when to seek capital punishment. But they can’t do it in every homicide case. They can only do it when there are “special circumstances” in California murder cases.

Special circumstances refer to what society adjudges to be the most serious, aggravated or heinous types of killings. Examples would include murdering a prosecutor or judge in retaliation for their work, or murder by torture of lying in wait for the victim.

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September 12, 2012

Consequences of Cops Planting Evidence

We all remember the OJ Simpson trial and the bloody glove. Defense lawyers convinced jurors that LAPD officers may have planted it at Simpson’s estate. The jury found Simpson not guilty of murder charges.

We’ll probably never know what really happened that night. But one thing we do know is that a cop who gets caught planting evidence faces dire consequences.

The officer would almost certainly be terminated from the force. And he probably would never find employment in law enforcement again.

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